🔼The name Arab: Summary
- Ambush, Trickery
- From the verb ארב ('arab), to lie in wait or ambush.
🔼The name Arab in the Bible
There are two completely different Hebrew names in the Bible that unfortunately both end up as Arab in English. One is the ethnonym ערב ('arab), which denotes someone from Arabia and which has nothing to do with the name this article looks at. This article, namely, looks at the name Arab (ארב, 'arab), which has nothing to do with a person from Arabia, but rather refers to a city that came to be in the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:52). It's mentioned only once and we don't know anything else about this place, except perhaps that king David's mighty-man Paarai the Arbite may have come from it (2 Samuel 23:35).
🔼Etymology of the name Arab
This name Arab — as spelled with an א (aleph), so that's not an Arab from Arabia — comes from the verb ארב ('arab), meaning to lie in wait or ambush:
The verb ארב ('arab) describes a sudden emergence out of a safe place, mostly in order to execute an attack. Noun ארב ('ereb) refers to a lying in wait. Nouns ארב ('oreb) and ארבה ('orba) mean ambush or trickery, and מארב (ma'arab) describes a place or agent of trickery. Noun ארבה ('aruba) describes an escape hatch or window.
For a meaning of this name Arab, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads A Court, for inexplicable reasons. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes a more logical Ambush. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer a translation of our name but does list it under the verb ארב ('arab), meaning to lay in wait or ambush.